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SACRAMENTO — American River College is well on the way to a 37,000 square foot Science Technology Engineering and Math Innovation Center, made possible in part by a donation from an alumnus.

Diane Bryant — tech executive, multiple patent holder and former COO of Google Cloud — said she was once a Fair Oaks teen working three jobs to make ends meet.

“Technology is pervasive, it is permeated and penetrated all industries, and there’s a huge shortage of talent,” Bryant said. “When I turned 18 I was out on my own. I still had four months of high school to go, so I was a bit homeless.”

Her break came in the form of a then free education at ARC.

“American River College was the perfect place for me and it filled an incredibly critical need for me at that time,” Bryant said.

Bryant turned to the engineering track when she heard how much money she could possibly make.

“But I knew I was not going to be poor,” she said. “I was not going to be poor and I was not going to be financially dependent upon anyone. And so, a college education meant everything to me.”

Bryant is a firm believer in the potential for schools like ARC to bridge socioeconomic achievement gaps.

“Community colleges are disproportionately poor and minority, and yet your income status and your race have absolutely nothing to do with your ability and ambition,” Bryant said.

So Bryant is putting her money where her beliefs are by donating a half million dollars to ARC’s new STEM Innovation Center, hoping to take her path to success and widen it for generations to come.